Miley Cyrus – Younger Now (3 stars)

Miley Cyrus – Younger Now

Despite the name, Younger Now is one of Cyrus' more mature records

'Change is a thing you can count on … no-one stays the same,' hollers Miley Cyrus during the eponymous opening track of album number six of her young life. It's a statement which definitely applies to her own career, from the corporate bubblegum of her Hannah Montana days to the defiantly precocious, maturing arena pop of Bangerz and the wilful, critic-pleasing oddness of her Flaming Lips collaborations, although her assertion that 'I feel so much younger now' is an odd one, for this is the most self-consciously 'grown-up' record she's produced.

Grown-up, that is, in the sense that it's the clearest evocation of young adulthood she's placed on record, as opposed to the hammer-lickin', ball-swingin', attention-grabbing likes of 'Wrecking Ball'. On 'Younger Now' and the dusky, romantic pop of 'Malibu', her Tennessee twang is pronounced and the rustic guitar sound is to the fore; on 'Miss You So Much' and 'I Would Die for You' the production is reverb heavy, as though she were singing the last waltz in a cavernous barndance, and her pining, romantic vocal suggests Emmylou Harris; as the album concludes with 'She's Not Him' and the personal, rather lovely 'Inspired', which speaks of climate change and the comfort of childhood memories, big-stage balladry is a significant point of emphasis.

Much has been made of Cyrus' key roles in the writing and recording of Younger Now, and it's a personal touch to be welcomed from any such major artist that they try and stamp their personality on their music, particularly one who's existed in the womb of corporate steering throughout their teens. If Younger Now is Cyrus as she really is, though, then it's fair to say she has more in common with Hannah Montana than Bangerz Miley.

There are touches of modernity in the treated choral backing to 'Bad Mood' and subtle rap rhythm of 'Love Someone', but the bones of this album are as trad and country-rockin' as we might expect from someone who's dressed like Elvis on its cover and who duets with Dolly Parton on a song (which was oddly missing from the preview stream sent out). Everything Cyrus has done before is tied together somehow here, yet it's created a new sound which appears vaguely tentative, the work of a confident and capable artist taking her first steps into real adulthood on the safest ground as she can find.

Younger Now is out now via RCA.

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